An ode to joy

Something truly wonderful happened this week, on our way to “The 9th Game”.

First, this one moment – in a lifetime full of them – not only affirmed everything this old coach “thought” he already knew about the “game of life”, but taught me even more.

Second, it wasn’t an all at once lightning bolt of epiphany that hit me.

Little by little, throughout the last week of practice we would ever have together, I was being “coached up” in ways never imagined.

And I suspect that I was not the only one being coached.

Something very powerful and lasting was going on within the players, the coaches and ultimately our team. It may very well extend out beyond the periphery of our “family” too, far beyond the basic X’s and O’s of football.

In fact, it went right to the core.

Far too often,  the mass of all of the “stuff” we carry around in our lives each day can begin to compress the spirit. The sheer volume of worry, anxiety, doubt and regret can smother our flame.  Even in broad daylight, it can be hard to see. Alone in our thoughts, our ears continue to buzz with the “noise” of life’s distractions.

Just how much of this stuff we try to carry is always our choice. So too is how it is carried.

But if  you can carry your load with an optimistic attitude, a mind open to the possibilities  and a heart full of gratitude, you can rediscover the abundant joy that exists all around us.

If you allow yourself to be “coached up”, it will be readily apparent. All you need to do is choose to  “see it”.

For a few precious hours this week, I was able to witness that distinctive look of “self-amazement”; the pure joy that spreads across a child’s  face when “it” finally “clicks”.  In many respects, it was the same look that coincides with the first steps, when you let go of the bike, or seeing them loosen their grip and swim towards you.

Not just once. Nor just twice.

But many, many times.

I recognized that same unmistakable look, reflected on the faces of those that have been coaxing, cajoling and coaching “it” out of their proteges for the past four years.  To be honest, it was hard to determine who was happier at that precise moment; the one that did it – or the one that inspired the other to do it. I can still picture the smiles.

By itself, the energy generated by the joy we all found in those simple moments was just overwhelming.

I couldn’t possibly imagine anything better.

But then, something even more incredible began to happen.

A different type of “energy” became apparent.  It was everywhere and in everyone. And as our time together grew, so did its intensity.   Neither did it dissipate once we broke practice. Like a catalyst, it continued its curing process each day, binding us closer and tighter together.

In a span of just a half-dozen or so hours, over the course of one week, we were able to create something entirely new.

A team, together.

“As one”.

A humbling experience.

I am left totally in awe of what we have become, and we have yet to take the field for the purpose we committed to in the first place.

I have a heart full of joy and a smile with no end in sight.

Speechless.

Well…let’s not get hasty. 🙂

Perhaps Antoine de Saint-Exupery put it best:

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.”

You know what? I think he is on to something.

That load seems awfully light now.

In fact, I am walking on air.

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